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THE ZEAL OF THY HOUSE
Dorothy L. Sayers
Harcourt, Brace and Company
COPYRIGHT, 1937, BY
DOROTHY L. SAYERS
All rights in the play are reserved by the Author and inquiries
regarding the dramatic rights should be addressed to Dorothy
Allen, 32 Shaftesbury Avenue, W.i (in conjunction with
Pearn, Pollinger & Higham Ltd,)
first American edition
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
BY QUINN & BODEN COMPANY, INC., SAHWAY, N T
A SCHOOLBOY, asked to state what he knew of Mary
Tudor, replied: "She was known as Bloody Mary but
she was not half as bloody as you'd think.**
We might reasonably expect Miss Sayers, since the
previous plays written or performed at the invitation of
the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral have concerned
prelates and kings who have come to violent and un-
timely ends, to write with relish of archbishops and as-
sassination, for she has already proved herself to be
thoroughly at home with peers and homicide. But, like
Mary Tudor, she has not fulfilled our sanguine expecta-
tions. Many will be relieved to find that her hero is an
architect, that such violence as there may be is acci-
dental, and that, though a rope is the instrument of his
downfall, it is accessory to a windlass and not to a
At a time when all works of fiction are prefaced by a
passionate declaration that the author's characters are
entirely imaginary, it is a pleasant change to have to
vouch for the authenticity of the main protagonists in
this play. It is true that, while most people are fa-
miliar with the names of those who damaged or were
murdered in Canterbury Cathedral, William of Sens,
who designed and built the greater part of it, is not as
well known as he ought to be. When the choir was
burnt down in 1174, he was chosen by a nervous Chap-
ter to undertake the work of reconstruction. Then as
now, that a foreigner in competition with native con-
tractors should be selected for such a task must have
caused furious comment. Nevertheless, in the face of
official timidity and practical obstacles, he succeeded in
raising from the ashes of Lanfranc's work the leaping
choir which we cherish today. This creation, magnifi-
cent as it is, might hardly seem to be suitable material
for a dramatic work. But Miss Sayers chooses William
of Sens to be the vehicle for her theme of the artist who
in the supreme moment of mastery over his craft may
be thrown down and destroyed by a consuming and
wasting infirmity, the germ of which is in us all and
which too often, fostered by our unawareness, destroys
virtue and vitality with its insidious infection. Though
few may have fallen physically as far and as hard as
William, many have fallen away artistically and have
perished without the revelation which was granted to
The only scenes which may be suspect historically are
those between William and the Lady Ursula. It might
be considered a little unfair to credit William with an
imaginary intrigue; but, in fact, Miss Sayers has in-
genious and moderately sound reasons for doing so.
Our authority for these events is the contemporary
chronicle of Gervase the Monk. After recording with
horror and enthusiasm the fire and the rebuilding, he
refers to William's accident in a strange and pregnant
sentence; he attributes the calamity to "either the
Vengeance of God or the Envy of the Devil/* Can we
not detect in this the verdict of one who, while full of
admiration for the Master's work, has watched with dis-
approval, and not a little envy, the pride and license
which the artist has been at little pains to conceal, and
now records a well-merited if lamented punishment
with righteous satisfaction? Herein may be the clue to
some such fall from grace as that which Miss Sayers
suggests in the scenes between the architect and his
For the rest the play deals with well-established facts.
Avoiding sham archaism and the fusty language which
is too often expected and provided in plays of period,
it presents the Middle Ages as being very little removed
in essentials from our own. Petrol and patent medicines
have taken the place of the windlass and the faith-
healing of the pilgrims, but human fallibility and the
inspiration of the artist remain constant. The Arch-
angels who from time to time descend into the arena
and direct the destinies of the groundlings need not
bewilder the reader or the spectator. They represent
the Will of God, Fate, Providence, Accident or what
you will and, in the final scenes, that bright flash of
intuition which occasionally illuminates even the most
THE ZEAL OF THY HOUSE was first presented,
in a slightly shortened form, at the Canterbury Fes-
tival, 1937? by the Friends of the Cathedral; Pro-
ducer: Harcourt Williams, in association with Frank
My best thanks are due to Miss Margaret Babing-
ton and the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral for
inviting me to write the play and for much hos-
pitable kindness; to Mr. Laurence Irving and Miss
Elizabeth Haffenden, who designed the stage and the
costumes respectively; to Mr. G. H. Knight, who
arranged the music; to the large cast of professional
and amateur actors who interpreted the play with so
much skill and enthusiasm; and, last but not least, to
Mr. Williams and Mr. Napier, who, in addition to
playing the important parts of William of Sens and
Theodatus, coped so patiently and generously with
the problems of production presented to them by an
Dorothy L. Sayers
RAPHAEL I Archangels
CASSIEL, the Recording Angel
A YOUNG CHERUB, Thurifer to Raphael
THE PRIOR OF CHRISTCHURCH
STEPHEN, the Treasurer
THEODATUS, the Sacristan
MARTIN, the Guest-Brother and Infirmarian
AMBROSE, the Choirmaster
WULFRAM, the Director of the Farm
ERNULPHUS, the Director of the Kitchen and
PAUL, the Gardener
HILARY, the Almoner
SILVESTER, the Painter
GERVASE, the Historian and Clerk
HUBERT, an Oblate, Superintendent of the Rough Masons
WILLIAM OF SENS, Architect to the Cathedral
JOHN OF KENT )
TT _ r f Rival Architects
HENRY OF YORK 3
TT 5* Workmen
A YOUNG BOY
THE LADY URSULA DE WARBOIS
Monks; Lay-Brothers; Workmen; Pilgrims of both sexes
Two Cantors and a Choir of Mixed Voices
The action takes place during the years 1175-1179.
NOTE: The names Michael, Raphael, are to be pronounced
as trisyllables throughout.
THE ZEAL OF THY HOUSE
At the opening of the play, the scene is set as for a
meeting of the Chapter, with seats about a long table.
The CHOIR having entered and taken their places, they
sing the hymn following:
Disposer supreme, and judge of the earth,
Thou choosest for Thine the weak and the poor;
To frail earthen vessels and things of no worth
Entrusting Thy riches which aye shall endure.
Those vessels soon fail, though full of Thy light,
And at Thy decree are broken and gone;
Then brightly appeareth the arm of Thy might,
As through the clouds breaking the lightnings have
[During the singing of the second half of this verse,
there enter MICHAEL, RAPHAEL with his THURIFER,
GABRIEL and CASSIEL the Recorder. They pass slowly
to the steps while the next verse is sung.
Like clouds are they borne to do Thy great will,
And swift as the wind about the world go;
All full of Thy Godhead while earth lieth still,
They thunder, they lighten, the waters o'erflow.
y. He maketh His angels spirits.
IJT. And His ministers a flaming fire.
I am God's servant Michael the Archangel;
I walk in the world of men invisible,
Bearing the sword that Christ bequeathed His Church
To sunder and to save.
I am God's servant
Raphael the Archangel; and I walk
In the world of men invisible; I receive
Prayer spoken or unspoken, word or deed
Or thought or whatsoever moves the heart,
Offering it up before the Throne.
God's servant the Archangel Gabriel,
The heavenly runner between God and man,
God's Recorder, I,
That keep the Book and cast up all accounts,
Cassiel, chief scrivener to the Courts of Heaven.
y. Their sound is gone out into all lands.
1^. And their words into the ends of the world.
[During the singing of the following verse, the
ANGELIC PERSONS depart severally, MICHAEL standing
above RAPHAEL on the right side of the steps, and the
THURIFER kneeling below them; CASSIEL with his book
on the left side of the steps with GABRIEL above.
Oh, loud be Thy trump and stirring the sound,
To rouse us, O Lord, from sin's deadly sleep;
May lights which Thou kindlest in darkness around
The dull soul awaken her vigils to keep.
[The Recorder, CASSIEL, sits at his desk;
RAPHAEL hands his censer to the THURIFER, and sits.
What is our business here today in Canterbury?
CASSIEL (slapping the Book rather sharply open and
running his finger down the page)
A meeting o the Cathedral Chapter to choose an
architect for the rebuilding of the choir after the great
fire of 1174.
Ah, yes the choir, I was sorry to see the old one go. It
was very beautiful, and a favourite haunt of mine.
Prayer had soaked into the stones and sanctified them.
Mankind are exceedingly careless of their possessions.
I have an entry against one Tom Hogg, neatherd, who
neglected to clean his chimney and so had his thatch set
on fire. The sparks were blown across the road and
lodged under the lead roof of the church. In a short
time all was ablaze.
A heavy consequence for a light offence. Was that your
It was. I bore the flame betwixt my hands and set it
among the rafters. We fanned it with our wings, my
angels and I, riding upon the wind from the south.
CASSIEL (muttering to himself over the Book)
. . . and seven, twenty-six . . . and three, twenty-nine
. . . and nine, thirty-eight. . . .
Was it done to avenge the murder of the Archbishop?
. . . and six. Put down four and carry eight.
I do not know. I am a soldier. I take my orders.
CASSIEL (casting up a column and ruling a line
We all do that, Michael. Your interference in the matter
does not affect the debit against Tom Hogg. He stands
charged with Sloth to a considerable amount. What use
was made of his sin is neither here nor there. It is a
question of economics.
Quite so. I could have done the work perfectly well
myself, with a thunderbolt. Hogg's sin was not in the
GABRIEL (in humorous resignation)
Nothing that men do is ever necessary. At least, that is
my experience. I find them very amusing.
[The sound of the "Vent Creator" is heard from the
lower end of the Chapter-House as the CHOIR-MONKS
enter in procession.
I find them very pathetic.
You see them at their best, Raphael; as Michael sees
them at their worst.
I find them very perverse. If God were not infinite, they
would surely exhaust His patience.
They make a great deal of work in the counting house.
Happily, being an angel, and not a man, I like work.
The hatred of work must be one of the most depressing
consequences of the Fall.
Some men work like angels and whistle over their
work. They are much the most cheerful kind.
[In the meantime, RAPHAEL has met the MONKS at the
foot of the steps and now precedes them to the Chap-
ter, swinging his censer before them. The last verse of
the hymn is sung by the MONKS standing about the
table. Then all sit RAPHAEL comes down to sit beside
MICHAEL. CASSIEL opens the Book at a fresh page and
prepares to take minutes of the meeting.
Brethren, the business before us is, as you know, the
appointment of an architect for the new choir. Our
earlier discussions have brought the number of suitable
candidates down to three. Today we have to make our
Under God's guidance.
Under God's guidance, of course, Father Theodatus.
The three men in question are John of Kent, William
of Sens, and Henry of York.
Have we got the estimates, Father Prior?
PRIOR (handing papers to STEPHEN)
I have two of them here. Henry of York's is lower than
John of Kent's. He thinks he can restore the existing
fabric without pulling it all down and rebuilding.
Will that be safe? Some of the masonry looks to me very
insecure. John of Kent is a local man he has had more
opportunity to judge. Besides, it would look well to give
the work to a local man.
John is very young young men are always full of ex-
travagant ideas. No experience.
One must encourage young men. The future is with the
John's estimate is certainly rather high. I don't think
we can countenance extravagance,
We must consider expense, of course, Father Treasurer.
Perhaps we had better have the architects in and hear
what they have to say. Father Gervase if you will be so
[GERVASE goes out by door, right.
Speaking as Choirmaster, may I urge here and now that
we should get a man who understands something about
acoustics. The old choir
What we want is the old choir restored to what it was
before. I dislike this trivial modern stuff they are
putting up all over the place, with its pointed arcading
and flourishy capitals. Give me something solid, like
One must move with the times, Father Paul. Now
William of Sens is a progressive man.
He is a foreigner. Why should we have a foreigner?
Isn't an Englishman good enough? Money should be
kept in the country.
We do not seem to have had an estimate from William
[Re-enter GERVASE right with JOHN OF KENT, WIL-
LIAM OF SENS, and HENRY OF YORK.
Not yet. He writes to me here Ah, good morning,
sirs. Pray come to the table. We have received your
letters and considered your qualifications. We are now
minded to hear your further opinions, after inspection
of the site. You, Master Henry, have submitted a very
conservative estimate of the cost of reconstruction.
My Lord Prior, I have kept the expense down to the
lowest possible figure; and after examination of the
standing masonry I have prepared a plan and elevation,
Let us have that.
[HENRY puts the plan before the PRIOR and moves
across to left of table.
You will see that I have allowed for keeping the greater
part of the standing fabric. (THEODATUS and ERNULPHUS
on PRIOR'S left examine the plan.) With the exception
of the more grievously damaged portions which I have
marked, I see no reason why the present structure may
not be restored-
[He passes plan down to the MONKS, on left.
My Lord Prior
and put into good order along the original lines. The
existing outer walls may be retained
You think they are not too much weakened by the
action of the fire?
Weakened? They are calcined in places almost to
They can be patched and grouted, Master John; and
by the addition of supporting buttresses and by altering
the pitch of the roof so as to lessen the thrust
SILVESTER (who has been studying the plan with
Will not the effect of the buttresses be somewhat <
There is something a little mean in the proportions of
AMBROSE (who is a man of one idea)
I should think it would be bad for sound. After all, the
chief use of a choir is to hold services in.
The sooner we get a choir the better. The singing has
been very bad lately. I am ashamed to hear sacred words
[Hands back plan to HENRY, who takes it across,
right, to WULFRAM.
The nave is very awkward to sing in. What with the
west end boarded up
Well, we can't be expected to hold our services in full
view, not to say smell, of the common people.
And the east end boarded up
[ERNULPHUS quietly falls asleep.
WULFRAM (taking plan)
The draughts are appalling. I caught a shocking cold
We are singing in a wooden box. You can't sing
properly in a box.
Time is certainly of some importance.
The cost is still more important.
HENRY (moving up again left of table)
To repair, according to my plan, will be very much
cheaper and quicker than to pull down and rebuild. I
could engage to be ready within two years
And in two years more you will have to rebuild again.
My Lord Prior
You, Master John, recommend a complete reconstruc-
Recommend? It must be done. Do not be deceived*
This botching is useless and dangerous. It is unworthy
Master John, I am older than you and more experi-
You never in your life built anything bigger than a
Master John, Master John!
This is the Cathedral Church of Christ at Canterbury.
It must be the wonder of the realm nay, of the world!
Will you insult God with patchwork? Give me the
commission, Lord Prior, and I will build you a church
worth looking at!
[Producing plan and elevation^ which he passes to
To the greater glory of Master John of Kent!
To the glory of God and of the blessed Saints Dunstan
STEPHEN (aside to the PRIOR)
And the entire depletion of the Treasury. Will some-
body please tell me where the money is to come from?
The devotion of the common people is most touching.
A poor widow yesterday brought us five farthings, all
her little savings.
Our Lord will reward her. But that will not go very far.
I think we ought to take the long view. Canterbury is
the most important church in the Kingdom, and attracts
a great many people to the town. What with the visitors
and the great increase in the number of pilgrims since
the lamented death of the late Archbishop
Blessed St. Thomas, pray for us.
[They cross themselves.
A little money spent now on building will repay itself
handsomely in donations and bequests.
[STEPHEN passes the plan to HILARY.
THEODATUS (rather loudly}
If the fire was a Divine judgment for the Archbishop's
ERNULPHUS (waking with a start)
Eh? the Archbishop? Blessed St. Thomas, pray for us.
[He crosses himself and falls asleep instantly.
I say, if the fire was a judgment, then the new building
is a reparation to God, and should be an offering worthy
of its high destination and a sufficient sacrifice for the
sins of this country.
No artist can do his best work when he has to consider
every halfpenny. Thou shalt not muzzle the ox
All this talk about money is sheer lack of faith. God
No doubt. But, humanly speaking, the accounts will
have to go through the Treasury, and I feel responsible.
HILARY (passing design to PAUL)
There is a good deal of elaborate and expensive orna-
ment here, Master John.
Modern nonsense, modern nonsense. Let us have the
old choir back. Here is a groined roof and a clerestory
and a lot of fiddle-faddle. How long is all this going to
Seven years perhaps more.
Seven years! Have we to put up with half a cathedral
for seven years? Why, God made the world in six days!
God, Father Martin, was not subject to limitations of
funds or material.
JOHN (angrily aside to WILLIAM)
Nor to the cheese-paring parsimony of a monastic chap-
WILLIAM (who has listened to all this with a quiet
smile; with a touch of humour)
Possibly God is an abler architect than any of us.
We have not yet heard your opinion, Master William.
Do you think it possible to restore the remaining fabric?
Oh, I should think very likely. I should certainly hope
to save some of it.
JOHN (angrily to WILLIAM)
That is not what you said to us outside.
But I really cannot sayI do not see how anybody can
saywithout prolonged and careful examination.
That's very true. Very reasonable.
That is why I have as yet prepared no estimate or plan.
But I have brought some drawings of the work en-
trusted to me at Sens and elsewhere which will give you
some idea of the kind of thing I should like to do here.
[Hands papers to PRIOR.
Now, I like that. Extremely fine and dignified. And very
modern in feeling.
And not too ornate.
[WILLIAM hands them on down right.
It is wonderful. It is like a poem in stone. I should
dearly love to see it. How light and yet how majestic!
[He looks admiringly at WILLIAM.
Time and cost would depend on the extent of the work.
I suggest making a thorough survey before getting out
a preliminary plan and estimate. Naturally, I should
commit you to nothing without the advice and approval
of yourself, Lord Prior and the Father Treasurer.
Just so. We should object to nothing in reason.
WILLIAM (he has now got the ear of the house)
I should be obliged (firmly) to stipulate for the best
God's service demands the best materials.
But we can effect an economy by making good use of
local talent, of which I am sure we must possess a great
I am all in favour of local talent.
And we may reduce the cost of shipping and carriage by
the use of certain mechanical devices of my own inven-
tion, which I need not say I shall be happy to place at
the disposal of the authorities without extra fee.
Thank you that is very proper, very generous. . . .
H'm. Well, Brethren, I think we have now the facts
before us. If these gentlemen would kindly retire for a
few moments. . . .
[General movement, GERVASE goes up, right, to door.
ERNULPHUS (waking with a start}
Eh, what? what? Have we finished?
No, Father Ernulphus. The architects are retiring while
Oh, I see. Very good.
[He falls asleep again.
Two or three years only, Lord Priorsay four at most
and a strict regard for economy.
Consider, Lord Priora structure worthy of its dedica-
tionand safety to life and limb, if you think that
Sir, if I am chosen, I will do my best.
[Exit WILLIAM. GERVASE follows them off. The rest
examine the plans and documents.
The motives of mankind are lamentably mixed.
They mean well, I assure you.
Then it is a pity they do not say what they mean.
It is most confusing. I have worn out my pen trying to
keep up with them.
That is easily remedied. Allow me.
[He plucks a feather from his own wing and hands it
to CASSIEL as GERVASE re-enters and shuts the door.
CASSIEL (trimming the feather into a pen)
I must say, Master Henry's plan seems rather makeshift.
He is a Yorkshire man. I would as soon have a foreigner
as a Yorkshire man.
He is too anxious to please. First he says two years-
then three or four. I should not rely on his estimate.
Are we agreed, then, not to appoint Henry of York?
(The MONKS signify agreement.} Then that leaves us the
choice between John of Kent and William of Sens.
What will they make of that?
They will choose the man whom God has appointed.
I shall see to it that they do.
Let us have John. He is a local man.
[As the MONKS give their votes, GERVASE notes them
Yes; his church will attract attention and bring people
into the town.
Too new-fangled and showy. I am for William. I dis-
trust these go-ahead young men.
I have said William all along.
Clearly William is a great craftsman let us choose him.
We know nothing about him personally. John is a
young man of devout life.
What has that to do with it? Besides, his manners are
abominable. I give my voice for William.
I like John's plan we haven't seen William's.
John's plan looks good from the musician's point of
I must not influence you but I admit I am greatly im-
pressed by William of Sens. . . . Father Gervase, how
does the voting stand?
Five have spoken for John and five for William.
This is where I interfere.
[He goes up into the Chapter-House.
Somebody has not voted. Who is it?
[Everybody stares round at ERNULPHUS.
It is Father Ernulphus.
He has been asleep all the time.
[GABRIEL stands behind ERNULPHUS.
He is getting very shaky, poor old soul.
THEODATUS (loudly in ERNULPHUS' ear)
ERNULPHUS (starting into consciousness)
Eh? eh? what?
THEODATUS (shouting in his ear)
Do you vote for John of Kent or William of Sens?
GABRIEL (in his other ear)
William of Sens.
ERNULPHUS (to THEODATUS)
Eh? Yes, of course. William of Sens. Certainly.
[He closes his eyes again.
He hasn't heard a word. (Loudly) Father Ernulphus!
ERNULPHUS (suddenly alert)
You needn't shout. I'm not deaf. I have followed every-
thing very carefully. I said William of Sens and I mean
William of Sens.
[He shuts his eyes tight with an air of finality.
Really, Father Prior!
You will never move him now.
The vote of the Chapter, then, is for William of Sens.
If there is no further business, the Chapter is dissolved.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy
Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall
be, world without end. Amen.
[GABRIEL goes up and stands above.
PRIOR (as the MONKS begin to file down, left and right)
Father Gervase, pray inform the architects of this de-
cision. Thank those that are not chosen for their pains;
they shall receive their journey-money from the Father
Treasurer. Ask Master William to come and see me. No
time must be lost in putting the work in hand, for the
night cometh wherein no man can work.
[Exit GERVASE, right, as the PRIOR follows the MONKS
IT. Be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord,
and work; for I am with you, saith the Lord God of
IJT. No man, having put his hand to the plough, and
looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.
IF. There is nothing better than that a man should re-
joice in his own works, for that is his portion.
IJT. Ascribe ye greatness unto our God; He is the Rock,
His work is perfect.
[Re-enter GERVASE, right, with JOHN, HENRY and
JOHN (indignantly to WILLIAM)
Trickery, Master William, sheer trickery and cheating.
You know well enough that you cannot restore a single
stone of it
HENRY (with equal indignation)
You will tell any lie in order to get the job. You
promise economy, and you will spend their money like
water. It is treacherous- it is dishonest
You would not only promise, you would do them a dis-
honest piece of work. That is treachery, if you like,
[HENRY bounces down the steps with an angry excla-
But why must you flatter and fawn on them? Why
pander to all their ridiculous foibles? Cannot you tell
them the truth as I do and let the best man win?
The trouble with you, my lad, is want of tact. You can
handle stone, but you can't handle men. You must learn
to humour fools if you want to get anything done.
You stinking fox!
[JOHN joins HENRY, and they go off muttering to-
gether, sinking their differences in their common
Master William, is it true, what they say?
Listen to me, young man. At my age one learns that
sometimes one has to damn one's soul for the sake of
the work. Trust me, God shall have a choir fit for His
service. Does anything else really matter?
[He and GERVASE follow the others out.
During the singing of the following Interlude, the
sceneshifters set the stage to represent the site of the
choir. The other three ANGELS go up and stand above
Every carpenter and workmaster that laboureth night
and day, and they that give themselves to counterfeit
imagery, and watch to finish a work;
The smith also sitting by the anvil, and considering the
iron work, he setteth his mind to finish his work, and
watcheth to polish it perfectly.
So doth the potter sitting at his work, and turning the
wheel about with his feet, who is always carefully set at
his work, and maketh all his work by number.
All these trust to their hands, and every one is wise in
Without these cannot a city be inhabited, and they shall
not dwell where they will nor go up and down;
They shall not be sought for in public council, nor sit
high in the congregation;
But they will maintain the state of the world, and all
their desire is in the work of their craft.
About two years have passed since the previous scene.
WORKMEN go in and out, fetching tools and barrows
from door, lefty which appears to lead to some kind of
office or store-room, and carrying out, right, blocks
of dressed stone on hand-barrows, etc. About half a
dozen LAY BROTHERS and WORKMEN remain to work
on the stage. A general impression of bustle and move-
ment is accentuated by the entrance of a number
of respectably dressed PILGRIMS, chattering like jack-
PILGRIMS (they enter by twos and threes, gape vaguely
about and pass on and out by way of the steps)
Beautiful, beautiful; and everything in such good taste.
... I wonder what it costs to keep the shrine going in
candles. . . . Two years they've been building now
goodness knows how long it's going to take. . . .
Dickon, you bad boy, leave that saw alone. . . . Who
did you say the architect was? Wilfrid somebody? . . .
My poor, dear husband such a sad sufferer I was de-
termined to make the pilgrimage. . . . No doubt, it
will be all very fine when it's finished, but I don't
think it's a patch on Lincoln. . . . Shocking bad din-
ners they give you at the "Lamb" you'd better come
and have a bite with us. ... I beg your pardon,
madam, was that your foot? Ah, the poor, dear,
martyred Archbishop! Such a charming man. I saw
him when he came back from Franceyes, really, he
was as close to me as I am to you. . . . Have you heard
the one about the three fat friars and the tinker's
widow? Well, there were three begging friars. ... So
I said to her, "Very well, you may take your wages and
go/' ... It came to me as I was kneeling there that
God would most surely have pity upon my sister. . . .
I must say it comes out more expensive than I'd reck-
oned for. And I was abominably cheated that night we
lay at Rochester. . . . The King must be a very
naughty man to have killed the poor Archbishop. . . .
There! I told you it was only putting ideas into the
child's head, . . . Bad business, that fire, and if you
ask me, I don't believe the true story ever came out.
. . . Yes, darling, ever so sorry barefoot in a white
sheet. . . . Indeed, I have a very great devotion to St.
Thomas. . . . This Purbeck marble's all the rage, but I
don't care about it myself . . . etc., etc.
[They trail away, still chattering. During the con-
fusion, GERVASE and WILLIAM have made their en-
trances, right 3 GERVASE crossing the stage and vanish-
ing into doorway, left, while WILLIAM sits at a trestle-
table, centre, and waits resignedly for his workshop to
get clear. As the stage empties, the ANGELS come down
again and take up their former positions.
Two years of toil are passed; what shall I write
About this architect?
A schedule here,
Long as my sword, crammed full of deadly sins;
Jugglings with truth, and gross lusts of the body,
Drink, drabbing, swearing; slothfulness in prayer;
With a devouring, insolent ambition
That challenges disaster.
These are debts;
What shall I set upon the credit side?
Six columns, and their aisles, with covering vaults
From wall to arcading, and from thence again
To the centre, with the keystones locking them,
All well and truly laid without a fault.
No sum of prayer to balance the account?
Ask Raphael, for prayers are in his charge.
Come, Raphael, speak; or is thy censer cold?
Canst thou indeed find any grace in William
The builder-up of Canterbury?
[He swings his censer, which gives out a cloud of
Behold, he prayeth; not with the lips alone,
But with the hand and with the cunning brain
Men worship the Eternal Architect.
So, when the mouth is dumb, the work shall speak
And save the workman. True as mason's rule
And line can make them, the shafted columns rise
Singing like music; and by day and night
The unsleeping arches with perpetual voice
Proclaim in Heaven, to labour is to pray,
Glory to God, that made the Firmamentl
[Enter GERVASE, left.
Here are the letters for you to sign, Master William,
These to Caen, about the next shipment of stone; these
to Dover, with instructions for the unloading and car-
riage. I have mentioned the matter of the damaged
crane and told them it must be made good at their own
[Hands pen and inkhorn.
Thanks, Father Gervase.
This is the invoice for the oak roofing-beams. And
there is an enclosure I can't quite understand. Some-
thing about the commission.
That has no business to be there. Idiots! It refers to a
private transaction. Give it to me. I will deal with it
myself. Anything more?
[Taking paper and pocketing it.
Do you mind looking at this consignment note? We
seem to be fifty scaffold-poles short; but I will have
them checked again.
Good. I can trust you to get it put in order. I don't
know what we should have done these two years with-
out your vigilant eye and skilful pen.
I wish I could do more to help. But my hands are no
good for anything but writing. I should have loved to
take a more active part in the work. (Smiling.) I must
be content to be the man with only one talent, and make
it go as far as I can.
[Enter HUBERT, right.
If everyone would make good use of his own talent and
let others do the same, the world would move faster.
Well, Brother Hubert, what's the trouble?
Well, sir, if you'd kindly take a look at this here last lot
of lime (presenting specimens of lime and mortar on a
shovel). If lime you can call it. What they've done to it
I don't know, but it don't seem to have no body in it as
you might say. It don't bind right You should hear
what my lads has to say about it,
Yes. Poor slack stuff. Where did this come from?
From Jocelyn's. You remember, the Father Treasurer
wanted the order given to them. He said Thomas Clay's
price was excessive.
I wish the Father Treasurer would allow me to know
my own job. Tell him no, don't tell him anything,
Order in a fresh lot from Thomas Clay's as before, in-
structing him to charge it up at Jocelyn's price and send
me a private note of the difference. We can adjust it on
that timber account. Do you understand? If these timber
merchants are knaves enough to offer me a five per cent
commission for giving them the contract and Father
Stephen is fool enough to grudge a few pounds extra for
first-class material, all right. We play off the knave
against the fool, get what we want, and save argument.
Ay, that's so. What the Father Treasurer don't see
won't worry him.
But is it honest?
All I know is, this here lime ain't honest. Prior Wibert,
him as built the Water-Tower, wouldn't never have
asked his masons to put up with cheap rubbish like this
WILLIAM (to GERVASE)
No, of course it's not honest. And it's not exactly safe.
That is, it's liable to misconstruction, if proclaimed
upon the housetops. But the Lord commended the un-
You can't make bricks without straw, nor yet mortar
without lime. And if Prior Wibert, rest his soul, was
alive, he'd say the same.
Cheer up, little churchman. Take thy bill and sit down
quickly and write fifty. Nobody's robbing the Church.
[Exit GERVASE, left, still a trifle unhappy about it.
H'm. Unfortunate. He'll lie awake all night wrestling
with his conscience, and probably let the whole thing
out to the Father Treasurer. Can't be helped. Sufficient
for the day. . . . How about the new arch? D'you think
she's settled in? I'd like to get those supports out today.
Been over every inch of her, sir, and I think she'll do.
We're getting the tackle up now.
Let me know when you're ready; I don't want anything
started till I come. What do you think of the plan for
the roof and clerestory?
Grand, sir, grand. I only wish Prior Wibert, good man,
was alive to see it. Always a man for new ideas, was
Prior Wibert. Ah! He'd have loved that tall shafting
and the way the cross-ribbing is made to carry the span.
"Mark my words, Hubert," he used to say to me, "the
arch is the secret of building. We ain't half learned yet,"
he'd say, "what the arch can carry when it's put to it."
He was right, there. But we're finding out. We're find-
ing out every day. Greece never guessed it; Rome only
half understood it; but our sons will know in the years
to come. (With rising excitement.) We all have our
dreams, Hubert. Churches we shall never live to see.
Arch shouldering arch, shaft, vault and keystone, win-
dow and arcading, higher and wider and lighter, lifting
roof, tower, spire, into the vault of heaven columns
slender as lily-stalks -walls only a framework for the
traceries living fountains of stone
That's so, Master, that's so. That's the way to build.
Each stone carrying his neighbour's burden, as you
A triumph of balance, eh, Hubert? A delicate adjust-
ment of interlocking stresses. Look! there was an idea
came into my head last night.
[He sketches on a block of stone.
Enter STEPHEN and MARTIN, right.
Well, I must say, it's rather inconsiderate. Still, we
mustn't let the opportunity slip.
Certainly not; rich benefactors have to be humoured.
Nobody knows that better than he does. Will you tackle
If you like. Er Master William!
What can I do for you, Father Treasurer?
Forgive me for interrupting you I know you're very
busy, but the fact is, we have a visitor
Rather an important visitor.
The Lady Ursula de Warbois
[Enter THEODATUS, right. He has his sleeves tucked
up, and a coarse apron over his habit, and carries a
We had been hoping she would come
She has just arrived and asked to see the Father Prior.
She is with him now. Father Theodatus, have you
heard? The Lady Ursula is with the Father Prior!
[He goes across to speak to one of the WORKMEN.
Come, sirs. All this excitement is scarcely becoming to
your cloth. Is the lady young and beautiful? And what
is she doing with the Father Prior, or he with her?
Master William! Pray control your tongue.
There! you see you have shocked Father Theodatus.
The Lady Ursula is the widow of an exceedingly
She has come to reside in Canterbury; and has several
times expressed interest in the work. Today she has
come and wants to see over the new choir
If she is pleased with what she sees, she will probably
be good for a handsome subscription.
Oh, very well. Take her where you like. Better stand
clear of the new arch, though. We're going to get the
supports out, and it might come down. You never
know eh, Hubert?
That's right. You never know.
Yes but the point is, she particularly wants to meet the
architect and be shown round personally.
She wants to see the plans, and have everything ex-
plained to her*
T'cha! women always want explanations. But they
never listen, and wouldn't understand a word if they
did. I've no use for women not in working hours.
The curse came by a woman.
Well if it comes to that, so did you, Father Theodatus.
That's right. Women are a curse but we can't get into
the world, nor on in the world without 'em.
Well, Master William, I'm sure you will oblige her.
People always like to talk to the architect. The human 1
touch, you know. It's always good publicity.
Oh, very well, I suppose one must make one's self a
martyr to publicity. Go and keep an eye on the lads,
Hubert; I'll come as soon as I'm free.
[Going; STEPHEN and MARTIN offer to accompany
No, thanks. I can find my own way. Don't you run your
heads into temptation. Sed libera nos a malo deliver us
from the apple and all its consequences.
[Exit, right, with HUBERT.
Dear me! I hope he will behave with discretion.
Never fear. He can bridle his tongue when he likes. He
is a politic man. Remember how he persuaded us into
the expense of re-building.
Yes we have had some experience of his policy. Well-
he wheedled money out of us; let him now wheedle it
out of the Lady Ursula.
At any rate, he is a first-class workman. He gives us good
value for our money.
Does he? I hope he does. Sometimes I have my doubts.
From something one of the carriers let fall the other
day, I am inclined to suspect him of some irregu-
Oh, surely not! The accounts all go through your hands
and the correspondence through those of Father Ger-
Father Gervase? Do you think a crafty old fox like that
hasn't the wit to hoodwink a young and innocent
churchman like Father Gervase? Is he in the office, by
the way? I am inclined to give him a caution. (Calling
left.) Father Gervase!
GERVASE (emerging, left, with letters)
Yes, Father Stephen?
Tell me; since you have been handling Master Wil-
liam's letters, have you ever had any reason to suspect
any financial irregularities?
GERVASE (taken aback)
Tampering with the estimates? Fudging the accounts?
Pocketing commissions and that sort of thing? Doing
little deals on the side?
GERVASE (recovering himself; with confidence)
I am quite positive, Father Stephen, that Master Wil-
liam has never cheated the Church of a single penny,
and never would. He thinks of nothing, lives for noth-
ing, but the integrity of his work. If you knew him as
well as I do, working with him these two years, you
would be sure of that.
I am glad to hear it. But keep your eyes open. I have
heard stories, and I am not altogether satisfied.
Would it not be better to speak openly to Master Wil-
Of course it would; but they are afraid to. Why? Be-
cause the man has managed to get the ear of the Father
Prior and because they don't want him to throw up
the job in the middle and because, having once put
their hands to dirty tools, they don't know how to draw
back. (To STEPHEN and MARTIN) No man can serve God
and mammon. God's House should be built with prayer.
You are trying to build it with worldly wisdom and
worldly lucre. Look at all those pilgrims! How many of
them have clean hands and pure hearts?
We cannot see into their hearts.
Have you listened to their talk? One in ten may be
sincere. The rest are idle men and gadding women,
making pilgrimage an excuse for a holiday trip com-
pounding for old sins by committing new ones. All they
come for is to drink and gossip in alehouses, tell each
other dirty stories, pick up loose companions, waste
their own time and other people's, and gabble through
a few perfunctory prayers at top speed, so as to have
more time for sight-seeing.
Are you not a little uncharitable?
Most of them are very worthy people. And after all, we
can't do without their money.
If you had faith, you could. You degrade the Church by
these vulgar and dubious methods of publicity.
Really, Father Theodatus! This is monstrous. The
Father Prior himself entrusted me with the publicity
side of the appeal. I have taken great pains to get these
pilgrimages properly advertised. And this is my rewardl
Brethren! brethren! All the workmen are listening to
[Enter WILLIAM, right, with URSULA.
Let them listen!
I do not care who hears me!
Pray, madam, mind your head the doorway is rather
low. One step down. Allow me. This is just a little
corner of our workshop, where Walter! Hugh! Simon!
Is nobody doing any work today? Do you take it for the
Feast of St. Lazybones? (The WORKMEN hurriedly return
to their tasks.} Walter that corner is out of true. And
here, you! Is that the way to treat your tools? ... I
beg your pardon, madam. The moment my back is
turned, everything seems to come to a standstill.
No wonder. Without the heart, how can the limbs do
their office? You are the heart of the undertaking.
It is very good of you to say so. I think you know Father
Stephen, the Treasurer? Father Martin, the Guest-
Brother? Father Theodatus, the Sacristan? And Father
Gervase, who is Clerk and Historian to the Chapter,
and is good enough to deal with my correspondence in
his spare time. (To GERVASE) Have those letters gone?
I am just taking them to the messenger.
[Exit GERVASE, right.
And what, madam, do you think of our Cathedral?
I think it must be the most beautiful in the world. And
how glorious the new choir will be when it is finished!
Master William has described it all to me and has prom-
ised to show me all his plans and drawings. That was a
promise, was it not, Master William?
Certainly~if you are really interested.
Of course I am interested. I am glad I have come to live
in Canterbury. It will be so exciting to watch the work
going on from day to day. A widow needs an interest in
life. And it will be a great comfort to live under the
protection of blessed St. Thomas.
Thousands of the suffering and bereaved have already
found healing and consolation by his benign interven-
tion. Only a few weeks ago, out of a large congregation
of worshippers who attended a special service
[Bell begins to ring, MONKS enter, right, and file
across the stage and down the steps. WORKMEN lay
down their tools and go out, right, with dinner-
That is the bell for nones.
[Exit down steps.
I will tell you presently about the special service*
[Exeunt STEPHEN and MARTIN down steps.
Do you propose to attend nones? The lower part of the
nave is available for the laity*
No; I propose to see those drawings of yours.
I do not think you came here to see architectural
I came to see the architect. (Pause.) Did you realise that
this was not the first time we had met?
I realised it perfectly. I had the honour to pick up your
glove yesterday in the market-place.
I was much indebted to you for the courtesy.
I was much indebted to you for the opportunity. I am
an opportunist. So, I fancy, are you. We have that much
Is that an impertinence, I wonder?
I ought to be offended with you.
If you are wise, you will be. Let us be plain.
The first time our eyes met, we knew one another
As fire knows tinder. You have seen what havoc
Fire works. Let be.
I do not fear the fire.
My fire should be a lamp to light the world,
Fed with my life, consuming only me;
Will you not learn that it is perilous
To play with fire? That it is death to come
Between the man and the work? In one man's life
Is room for one love and no moreone love;
I am in love with a dream.
Tell me your dreams
Sitting by the fire, seeing pictures in the fire,
Visions and dreams.
Your old men shall dream dreams
And your young men see visions but not your women.
What use have women for the dreams of a man
Save to destroy them? What does a woman know
Of the love of knowledge, passing the love of women?
The passion of making, beside which love's little passion
Shows brittle as a bubble? To raise up beauty from
Like the splendour of resurrection; to see the stone
Knit unto stone and growing, as in the womb
Bone grows to bone; to build a world out of nothing
That is my dream; that is the craftsman's dream,
The power and the glory, the kingdom of God and
Of man, never of woman. Women create
Passively, borne on a wind of lust, for a whim,
At the caprice of a man, in a smile, in a spasm
Of the flesh; we, with the will, with the blood, with the
All the desire of the soul, the intent of the mind.
Now do you understand what my dreams are
And why they are not for you?
Knowledge and work knowledge is given to man
And not to woman; and the glory of work
To man and not to woman. But by whom
Came either work or knowledge into the world?
Not by the man. God said, "Ye shall not know;
Knowledge is death." And Adam was afraid.
But Eve, careless of peril, careless of death.
Hearing the promise, "Ye shall be as gods/*
Seized knowledge for herself, and for the man,
And all the sons of men; knowledge, like God;
Power to create, like God; and, unlike God,
Courage to die. And the reward for her
Was sorrow; but for Adam the reward
Was work of which he now contrives to boast
As his peculiar glory, and in one breath
Denies it to the woman and blames her for it,
Winning the toss both ways. My simple Adam,
It is too late to scare woman with risks
And perils woman, that for one splendid risk
Changed the security of Paradise,
Broke up the loom and pattern of creation,
Let in man's dream on the world, and snatched the torch
Of knowledge from the jealous hand of God
So that the fire runs in man's blood for ever.
WILLIAM (carried away)
So that she runs like fire in a man's blood
For ever! Take what thou wilt the risk, the sorrow,
The fire, the dream and in the dream's end, death.
Thus Eve cast down the gauntlet in God's face:
"My will for Thine; man's purpose against God's;
Slay me and slay the man, slay all my seed,
But let man's knowledge and man's work go on."
Thus God took up the gauntlet in Eve's face.
Having, like man, courage to look on death:
"My Son for thy sons, and God's blood for man's;
Crucify God, but let the work go on."
By man came sin.
O felix culpa, quae
Talis et tanti meruit Redemptoris!
Master William! Master William!
There! that means work. You see what happens when
one starts this kind of thing. Go now. They are coming
out of church. Quickly or we shall have Father Martin
and the special service all over again. I will come to
your lodging after supper.
URSULA (on the steps)
Bringing your dreams with you.
[Exit down steps. Enter HUBERT, right.
Master! The arch is ready when you are.
I am coming. Work, Hubert, work. Sometimes one per-
suades one f s self that it all means something to some-
Do you think the gracious lady will be moved to con-
tribute to the building fund?
H'm. I had forgotten that aspect of the matter. Yes I
shouldn't be surprised if she did.
The blessed saints be praised for it.
[Exeunt WILLIAM and HUBERT, right.
THE YOUNG CHERUB (suddenly)
Why did God create mankind in two different sorts, if
it makes so much trouble?
[The ANGELS are inexpressibly shocked.
Hush! you mustn't ask Why.
Angels never ask Why.
Only men ask Why,
And you see what happened to them, just for asking
Do you want to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, like
Adam and Eve?
And find Michael there, with his big sword?
And put our Master to the trouble and pain of another
Or start another war, like that lost brother whom we
must not name?
Criticising God's creation! I never heard of such a thing!
Shall we that are but worms, but silk-worms, but glow-
worms, chide God that He hath made slow-worms, and
other venomous creeping things?
Shall we that are all discord, quarrel the harmony of His
creation or His providence?
Can an apothecary make a sovereign treacle of vipers
and other poisons, and cannot God admit offences and
scandals into His physic?
As soon as He had made light (which was His first
creature) He took pleasure in it; He said it was good;
He was glad of it; glad of the sea, glad of the earth,
glad of the sun, and moon, and stars, and He said of
everyone. It is good*
The scene is as before; two more years have passed;
WALTER, HUGH and GEOFFREY, lay zvorkmen, are en-
gaged in polishing marble rather up-stage.
[Enter SIMON, right, and crosses to door, left.
The animals went in two by two,
Hey, ho, nonny!
Said the dog, Bow-wow I said the cat, Mew, mew!
Spring is the time for love!
Spring, indeed! I wish the spring were here. It hasn't
stopped raining for three months.
More like four. We've had vile weather ever since the
eclipse last September. What a climate!
I knew that eclipse meant bad luck.
Well, it's not raining today.
Bad luck? If we never get worse luck than a bit of bad
weather, I don't care how many eclipses we have.
We ain't heard the last of the eclipse yet, mark my
You and your prophecies! What are you grumbling
about? Job's going well enough, ain't it? Four years,
and here we've finished the triforium and the clerestory,
and the key of the great arch will be put in today. Not
too bad, in four years.
[Re-enter SIMON, left, trundling a coil of rope>
wound on a drum.
Ah! he's a good worker, is Master William. And a fast
worker. Knows what he's about. He's the sort of master
I can do with. Strict, and drives you like the devil, but
I don't mind that.
That's right. I respect a master that's a good worker.
When Master William works, he works.
And when he plays (with a meaning grin), he plays!
Him and the Lady Ursulal
Well, I don't mind that, either. That's their affair.
Quite right, Hugh. The day for labour and the night
(Sings) Two by two they went into the ark,
Hey, ho, nanny!
The doors were shut, they were all in the dark,
Spring is the time for love!
She's somewhere about the place now.
Who is? Lady Ursula?
Yes. Takes a lot of interest. Always putting up a bit o'
prayer, or coming to see how the job's getting on, or
calling on the Father Treasurer with a little donation
But when old Noah opened the door,
Hey> hOj nonny!
They all came out by three and four,
Spring is the time for love!
[Enter PRIOR and THEODATUS, right.
It's a wonder the good fathers don't see through it.
Maybe they do. Maybe it pays them to wink t'other eye.
Lady Ursula's rich. It don't do to offend rich folks.
You hear that, Father Prior?
All the same, mark my words, no good will come of it.
That eclipse wasn't sent for nothing.
Ah, come off it. You and your eclipsel
Who d'ye think had been playing tricks?
Heyj ho, nonny!
They went in two and they came out six,
Spring is the time for love!
For shame, my son, for shamel We cannot have these
lewd songs here.
[He comes down past SIMON to the steps, with the
[He goes out, left.
So it goes on, Father, day after day-
Songs in the workshop, sniggering in the dortor,
Unbecoming gossip among the novices.
Heads wagged in the market-place, and tales going
In the alehouse, fingers pointed everywhere
At William of Sens, the Cathedral architect
A notorious evil liver, a seducer of women,
A taker of bribes
That was not proved, I fancy.
A cunning liar, that boasts of pulling the wool
Over the eyes of the fat, innocent monks;
A man without truth, without shame. It is not respect-
It is not right.
You must not say, without truth,
Lest you should hear the very stones cry out
Against you. Truth is glorious; but there is one
Glory of the sun, another of the moon,
And all the truth of the craftsman is in his craft.
Where there is truth, there is God; and where there is
There is God's glory too.
Craft is the word.
We could do better without William's craft
In more ways than In one. I would rather have
A worse-built church with a more virtuous builder.
Make God the loser for your conscience' sake?
This is God's House, and if on any pretext
We give him less than the best, we shall cheat God
As William never cheated God, nor us.
He that bestowed the skill and the desire
To do great work is surely glad to see
That skill used In His service.
Skill is not all.
The kingdom of Heaven is won by righteousness,
Not skill. He cannot wish His work performed
Save with clean hands and a pure heart.
Will you not let God manage His own business?
He was a carpenter, and knows His trade
Better, perhaps, than we do, having had
Some centuries of experience; nor will He,
Like a bad workman, blame the tools wherewith
He builds His City of Zion here on earth.
For God founded His Church, not upon John,
The loved disciple, that lay so close to His heart
And knew His mind not upon John, but Peter;
Peter the liar, Peter the coward, Peter
The rock, the common man. John was all gold,
And gold is rare; the work might wait while God
Ransacked the corners of the earth to find
Another John; but Peter is the stone
Whereof the world is made. So stands the Church,
Stone upon stone, and Christ the corner-stone
Carved of the same stuff, common flesh and blood,
With you, and me, and Peter; and He can,
Being the alchemist's stone, the stone of Solomon,
Turn stone to gold, and purge the gold itself
From dross, till all is gold.
To purge to burn!
He makes His ministers a flaming fire
And are not we His ministers? Shall not we
Lay axe to the rotten root, trunk, branch? destroy,
Make bonfire of this scandal in the Church
And burn God's honour clean?
God is a man,
And can defend His honour, being full-grown
In wisdom and in stature. We need not
Play nursemaid to the Babe of Bethlehem
To shield Him from the harlot and the thief,
Or keep those tender, innocent hands from harm
That bear the sharp nails 1 imprint, and uphold
The axis of the spheres. He can touch dirt
Without defilement, for Himself hath said,
"What I have cleansed, that call not thou uncleau,"
But while His laws are broken in our sight
Must we stand by, and smile, and still do nothing?
Do your own work, while yet the daylight lasts.
Look that it be well done; look not beyond it.
I charge you, on your holy obedience,
Set charity as a bridle on your tongue;
Talk not of William's nor another's faults,
Unless to God, Who hears but spreads no scandal.
Of this be sure: who will not have the Gospel
Shall have the Law; but in God's time, not ours.
[Enter SIMON fey door, left, carrying a small windlass.
SIMON (bursting irrepressibly into song)
Every bird had found her mate,
Hey, ho, nonny!
They all came out by seven and eight,
Spring is the time for love!
[He sets the windlass down, centre. Enter WILLIAM,
You are merry, Simon. Is that the rope to rig the travel-
See that every inch of It is well tested before I go up*
I'm not as young or as light as I was. Good morning.
Father Prior. Ah! Father Theodatus, you are just the
man I was looking for. Pray will you help Simon to test
that rope? It is to hoist me up to the top of the great
arch, and I have a value for my neck.
Oh, by all means.
[Moving up y left.
Simon is a good lad enough, but I would rather trust
your vigilance. Young men's minds are apt to run astray.
[During the following dialogue, THEODATUS takes the
free end of the rope and begins to wind it off on to the
windlass. SIMON stands by the drum, so that, as the
rope is slowly wound off, they can both examine it for
flaws. They occupy the stage from centre to left.
Young men are not alone in that, Master William. The
talk of the town comes to our ears sometimes, dull-
witted old churchmen though we be. It seems that even
a master architect may find interests outside his work.
Outside his working hours, Father Prior.
I quite appreciate that. My dear son, as your father in
God I might find many things to say to you. * . .
But as a man of the world you doubt whether I should
listen. It is a rare virtue to refrain even from good
Then I will speak only as a man of the world and urge
the value of discretion.
Father Theodatus would say, of hypocrisy.
Father Theodatus is not your employer. The Church is
your employer, and it is my duty to speak for the
Very well. As my employer, to use your own blunt term,
what fault have you to find with my private amuse-
This; that instead of attending to their work, your
workmen waste their time in gossip and backbiting
about you. If you choose to be damned, you must; if
you prefer to make a death-bed repentance, you may;
but if an idle workman does an unsound job now, no
repentance of yours will prevent it from bringing down
the church some day or other.
WILLIAM (after a pause)
You are quite right. I congratulate you. You have found
the one argument to which I am bound to listen. Were
you a diplomat before you were a churchman?
WILLIAM (looking after him)
Or a soldier. The old man's a hard hitter and knows
where to plant his blows. (He goes upj back, to overlook
the work of WALTER and GEOFFREY, speaking to THEO
DATUS and SIMON as he goes): Test it with the eye and
the hand don't trust to either alone.
Are there no fires in Heaven, that every man
With his own hand, upon the anvil of sin
Forges the sword of judgment? Gabriel, Raphael,
There is a sword in the making; look you to it.
[RAPHAEL goes up and stands near THEODATUS,
centre, and GABRIEL near SIMON, left.
T. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding
the evil and the good.
IJT. Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
T. He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the
IJ?'. And sendeth rain upon the just and unjust.
[Enter URSULA, right.
WILLIAM (turning quickly and coming to meet her)
Ah! You have come at a very good moment.
[He leads her forward to the steps.
SIMON (watching them with interest)
Oho! look at that!
We are just about to put in the key of the great arch.
Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity!
If you will stand here presently and watch, you will see
me fly up to the top of the scaffold in a machine of my
own devising and down again, like blessed St. Paul in
THEODATUS (hastily reciting with averted eyes)
Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis;
Sancta Dei genetrix, ora pro nobis;
Sancta Virgo virginum, ora pro nobis.
[RAPHAEL sets his censer gently swinging.
How amusing! I hope it is safe.
SIMON (over his shoulder to GEOFFREY)
More headaches for Father Martin! He don't like these
goings-on. Says they look bad, and shock influential
Never fear for that. But, hark'ee we're in disgrace
with the Prior.
Mater castissima, ora pro nobis;
Mater inviolata, ora pro nobis;
Mater intemerata, ora pro nobis.
Oh! I ought not to have come.
That was my fault. I asked you. I wanted you here*
Take care, Simon! There is a flaw in the rope.
[SIMON, with his eyes on WILLIAM and URSULA, pays
The cat, the rat, the sow, the hen,
Hey, ho, nonny!
They all came out by nine and ten,
Spring is the time for love!
[The rope runs through his heedless fingers. GABRIEL
makes a despairing gesture, and looks across at
RAPHAEL. The scandalised THEODATUS continues to
pray with his eyes tight shut
Virgo veneranda, ora pro nobis;
Virgo praedlcanda, ora pro nobis;
Virgo potens, ora pro nobis.
What does the Prior complain of? Scandal in the
Something like that.
Vas honorabile, ora pro nobis;
Vas insigne devotionis, ora pro nobis;
Rosa mystica, ora pro nobis.
Take care, Theodatus! There is a flaw in the rope.
Tunis Davidica, ora pro nobis;
Tunis eburnea, ora pro nobis;
Domus aurea, ora pro nobis.
[RAPHAEL flings away the censer, which rolls clanging
down the steps. The rope, flaw and all, is wound off.
At least he cannot say that you think more of me than
o your work.
No, he has not said that.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, parce nobis
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, exaudi nos,
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
[The rope is now all wound off.
He will not take the work away from you?
He is too shrewd for that. Besides, God would not let
him; He has put me here and will keep me here, Prior
or no Prior.
WORKMAN (putting his head in at the door, below}
Master Hubert says, is that rope ready?
Here you are, mate.
[He picks up the windlass and takes it down to
WORKMAN, who carries it out.
Bo we presume too much upon God's mercy?
We are the master-craftsmen, God and I
We understand one another. None, as I can,
Can creep under the ribs of God, and feel
His heart beat through those Six Days of Creation;
Enormous days of slowly turning lights
Streaking the yet unseasoned firmament;
Giant days, Titan days, yet all too short
To hold the joy of making. God caught His breath
To see the poles of the world stand up through chaos;
And when He sent it forth, the great winds blew,
Carrying the clouds. And then He made the trees
For winds to rustle through oak, poplar, cedar,
Hawthorn and elm, each with its separate motion
And with His delicate fingers painted the flowers,
Numberless numberless! why make so many
But that He loved the work, as I love mine,
And saw that it was good, as I see mine?
The supple, swift mechanics of the serpent,
The beautiful, furred beasts, and curious fish
With golden eyes and quaintly-laced thin bones,
And whales like mountains loud with spurting springs,
Dragons and monsters in strange shapes, to make
His angels laugh with Him; when He saw those
God sang for joy, and formed the birds to sing.
And lastly, since all Heaven was not enough
To share that triumph, He made His masterpiece,
Man, that like God can call beauty from dust,
Order from chaos, and create new worlds
To praise their maker. Oh, but in making man
God over-reached Himself and gave away
His Godhead. He must now depend on man
For what man's brain, creative and divine
Can give Him. Man stands equal with Him now,
Partner and rival. Say God needs a church,
As here in Canterbury and say He calls together
By miracle stone, wood and metal, builds
A church of sorts; my church He cannot make
Another, but not that. This church is mine
And none but I, not even God, can build it.
Me hath He made vice-gerent of Himself,
And were I lost, something unique were lost
Irreparably; my heart, my blood, my brain
Are in the stone; God's crown of matchless works
Is not complete without my stone, my jewel,
Hush! God will hear you
The priests say He is jealous. Tempt Him not
Lest He should smite and slay.
He will not dare;
He knows that I am indispensable
To His work here; and for the work's sake, He,
Cherishing, as good masons do, His tools,
Will keep me safe. When the last stone is laid
Then may He use me as He will; I care not;
The work is all; when that is done, good night
My life till then is paramount with God.
You make me shake to hear you. Blasphemy! blas-
Sound sense. Fear nothing. I must leave you now;
The work waits for me, and that must not be;
Idleness is the only sin. Like God
I must be doing in my little world,
Lest, lacking me, the moon and stars should fail.
[He goes out down the steps.
URSULA (watching him go)
I am afraid; have mercy on him, Christ!
Draw thy sword, Michael; the hour is come.
[MICHAEL follows WILLIAM out, with his sword drawn
in his hand.
JT. Except the Lord build the house, their labour is but
lost that build it.
IJT. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh
but in vain.
JT. The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and re-
bukes are fallen upon me.
1^. For Thou art great and doest wondrous things;
Thou art God alone.
[During the singing of these versides, the three re-
maining ANGELS stand side by side at the top of the
steps, with URSULA below them. Now they go up and
stand on the plinth at the back of the stage, RAPHAEL
and GABRIEL to right and left, with CASSIEL centre.
The Lord is known to execute judgment; the ungodly is
trapped in the work of his own hands.
For he hath said in his heart, Tush, I shall never be
cast down; there shall no harm happen unto me.
The snares of death compassed me round about, and
the pains of hell gat hold upon me.
I shall find trouble and heaviness, and I will call upon
the name of the Lord: O Lord, I beseech Thee, deliver
[The stage gradually fills with MONKS and WORKMEN;
among them is a YOUNG BOY.
MONKS AND WORKMEN
This is a brave day . . . the great arch finished . . .
See, they are making ready to drop in the keystone . . .
It is wonderful how well Master William's machines
work they have halved the labour of building . . .
there's old Hubert hell be a proud man today . . .
Laus Deo! our new choir will be ready for us within
the year . . . There it goes! No, they're waiting for
something . . . They're waiting for the architect . . .
There he is, slung half-way up in the travelling cradle
. . Can't you see? Come on, lad, up on my shoulder
. . . There's the keystone slung aloft on the crane . . .
Hurray! Master William's up nowjust getting to
the top of the scaffolding . . . Get ready to cheer,
boys. . . .
THE YOUNG BOY (from his perch on the workman's
Oh, look! look at the angel the terrible angel!
What's that? An angel? What? Where? Nonsense!
THE YOUNG BOY
High on the scaffold, with the drawn sword in his handl
Mother of God!
[She falls upon the steps.
A shout from the stage is succeeded by a heavy crash
without from the far end of the building. Men run in,
He's fallen . . . Master William's down . . . He's
killed . . * fifty feet at least . . . His foot slipped . . .
No, the rope broke . . What's happened? . . . God
have mercy on us! ... Run for help! . . . Blessed
Mary, pray for us! ... Send for the Prior . . . Fetch
a chirurgeon . . . The devil is abroad . . . No, it was
an angel . . . Where's that boy who saw the angel?
. . . Here, the lady's fainted give us a hand here to
carry her in ... Come along, let's see what's hap
pened . . .
[There is a general rush down the steps.
URSULA (to the men who are supporting her)
Take me with you. (But she is unable to stand.) No-
leave me! Run and bring me word.
[They leave her crouched on the steps and run out.
The three ANGELS come down and follow the crowd
out. Nobody is left but THEODATUS, SIMON and
The rope! God forgive me I was talking and laughing.
Father Theodatus, what have we done?
The rope! God is avenged. But I did not mean I did
not think if it had not been for your lewd songs and
his own behaviour with this woman
Could You not break me and not him, O God?
We have killed him among us.
Out of the deep have I called unto Thee. O Lord, hear
let Thine ears consider well the voice of my com-
If Thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done
amiss, O Lord, who may abide it?
For there is mercy with Thee, therefore shalt thou be
1 look for the Lord, my soul doth wait for Him, in His
word is my trust.
My soul fleeth unto the Lord; before the morning
watch, I say, before the morning watch.
O Israel, trust in the Lord, for with the Lord there is
mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption;
And He shall redeem Israel from all his sins.
[During the singing of the psalm, the PRIOR has re-
entered from the lower end y with HUBERT, GERVASE
and the YOUNG BOY. They mount the steps.
Father! Father! In pity, tell me is he dead?
No, my poor child. But sorely maimed.
He will never be the same man again.
Let me go to him.
Presently. The leech is with him now, seeing to his
hurts. Trust me, you shall see him presently. (He goes
on up steps and sits, right.) Now, Hubert, I must know
how all this came to pass.
My Lord Prior, there is no doubt at all. There was a
flaw in the rope. Just as the cradle came up to the level
of the scaffolding, bearing Master William, I saw with
my eyes the strands spring asunder. I stretched out my
hands to catch him, but I could not reach. If I could
have done anything anything! I would gladly have
given my life.
So would I, Hubert.
I am sure you would.
Such a craftsman! such a craftsman! So kind a master!
Just, zealous, generous no fault in him at all.
So faithful a servant of the Church! Who will finish his
work now? ... He was my friend, too.
What I should like to know iswho had the testing o'
that there rope?
SIMON (flinging himself at the PRIOR'S feet)
It was I it was my neglect. I have no excuse. I shall
never forgive myself.
It was my fault. I was talking to William distracting
the attention of them all. This is a judgment for our
sin his and mine.
True; it was a judgment. Ask this boy here. Did he not
see the angel thrust him down?
Yes, child. What is this about an angel?
THE YOUNG BOY
It is true. I saw a great angel stand between heaven and
earthall in gold and scarlet, with a drawn sword. Oh,
and he had great wings, too. He cut the rope and the
There, you see! it was a divine judgment.
Divine judgment! The boy's dreaming. It was rank care-
lessness. Simonwho was at the other end of the rope
when you tested it? (SIMON looks round at THEODATUS,
waiting for him to speak.) Speak up, man! Who was it?
I was there, Theodatus.
Well, it was I. But I had nothing to do with it. You
heard what the child said. It was a miracle.
I think we sometimes make disasters, and then call them
miraculous judgments. Did you at any moment take
hand or eye from the rope while you were testing It?
I cannot remember. (Under the PRIOR'S eye, he aban-
dons this line of defence.) She was there with William.
For my soul's sake I could not look at them. I was saying
my prayers . . .
Sayin* your prayers! With the master's safety depending
God Himself laid the seal upon my eyes. I was His ap-
pointed instrument to overthrow the wicked man.
Think what you say, my son. It is not for us
To ordain ourselves the ministers of vengeance;
For it must needs be that offences come,
But woe unto that man by whom the offence
Cometh; 'twere better he had not been born.
This is thy sin: thou hast betrayed the work;
Thou hast betrayed the Church; thou hast betrayed
Christ, in the person of His fellow-man.
What was the prayer wherein thou offer'dst up
Thy brother's life?
The Litany of the Virgin.
Go to the church; repeat it once again,
Saying at every line: "This was the spear
With which I pierced the body of the Lord/*
Then come to me and ask for absolution.
I will obey.
[Exit THEODATUS, right.
For you, my son and daughter,
You see how sin brings its own suffering;
Do not despair; God's mercy is very great. (He rises.)
Thou that hast visions of angels, come with me.
I am an old man. Let me have thy shoulder.
So. Thou shalt tell me more about the angel.
[Exeunt PRIOR and YOUNG BOY, right.
GERVASE (helping URSULA to her feet)
Madam, pray do not weep so. He would be sorry to
see it. I loved him, too. Let us go together to visit him.
And supposing he can never work again? What comfort
in this world for him? And what forgiveness for any of
[Exeunt GERVASE and URSULA, right.
Well, Simon, you've made a nice mess of it. There,
there, lad, I can see you're sorry. Don't 'ee lose heart,
now. It's a bad business, but we must make the best of it.
[Exeunt HUBERT and SIMON, right.
During the singing of the following hymn, the
ANGELS return and take up their places as at the begin-
ning of the play.
phalanx et archangelica
principans turma, virtus
Vos, O Michael
dans verba nuntia,
transferte nos inter
Six months have passed since the preceding scene.
During the singing of the interlude, GERVASE, assisted
by a LAY-BROTHER, is making up a couch in the centre
of the stage. Enter, right, MARTIN, carrying a couple of
They told me you wanted some extra coverings for
Master William's bed.
Thank you, brother. Why, this is very kind! Surely
these are the best fleeces,
They are usually kept for distinguished visitors. But
Father Wulfram specially asked that you should have
them. They will make Master William warm and com-
fortablesince he has taken this fancy for lying here.
We are in hopes he may sleep better close to his work.
He is so restless. Day and night he thinks of nothing
but the building, and frets to lie helpless and so far
away. From here he can see the sun shine on the arches
he has raised; and when he lies wakeful in the early
dawn it will comfort him to hear the clink of the
mason's trowel and the carver's hammer heralding in
[The LAY-BROTHER, sets a stool near the head of the
couch, down-stage, and goes out, right.
Poor soul! Well, let us praise God for this warm and
seasonable weather. Now that the summer is come, he
will take no hurt from his change of lodging.
[The LAY-BROTHER returns with a jug of water, a
horn drinking-vessel, and a candlestick, which he places
on the stool
May it refresh him, soul and body! But I fear he under-
takes more than his strength will bear. He has insisted
today on being carried to view the progress of the roof
over the Choir and Crosses. It is impossible to move
him without causing severe pain and then he gives
orders and excites himself. Indeed, it is too much for
MARTIN (with some hesitation)
I suppose nothing would induce him to resign the ap-
Part him from his work? Oh, no! It would be more
bitter to him than death. And where should we get
another like him?
Well, I don't know. It is true he has done magnificent
work. But frankly, dear brother, a sick man with a
crippled spine cannot have his eyes here, there and
everywhere, and during this half-year since his accident
things have not gone quite so well.
You know why that is. Some of the brethren do not
work so loyally for Brother Hubert as they did for him.
Isn't that natural? Hubert is an excellent craftsman,
but, after all, he is only an oblate, and a man of no edu-
cation. Now if Master William had appointed, let us
say, Father Hilary
Father Hilary does fine carving very prettily, but he's
quite out of his depth when it comes to the practical
side of building. Now, Brother Hubert understands his
job inside out.
Of course, but Well, there you are! You can't deny
that there has been a certain amount of ill-feeling.
Jealousy, vanity, hatred, malice and all uncharitable-
ness! And these are churchmen, vowed to holy obedi-
ence and humility.
Beati pauperes spiritu. Beat! mites.
Amen! (He examines the couch critically and gives a
punch to the pillows. Re-enter LAY-BROTHER, right,
with a crucifix in his hand and a large bundle of papers
under his arm.) Ah, thanks, Brother Robert. (He sets
the crucifix on the stool with the other things.) Better
put the papers on that other stool for the moment.
(LAY-BROTHER puts them on stool, right.) There! I
think that is the best we can do.
[Voices and footsteps off, right.
I think they are bringing our patient in now.
I hope he is not too much exhausted.
[Enter, right, WILLIAM, carried by THEODATUS and
Ugh! ugh! Gently, you fools, gently. Do you want to
kill me? You've had one good shot at it. Jolt, jolt, like
a couple of pack-asses. Clumsy idiots.
[They lay him on the couch, to a running accompani-
ment of groans and curses.
I am sorry. Did I hurt you?
Oh, no! Only jarred me to pieces, that's all.
GERVASE (arranging pillows)
Is that a little easier? I'm afraid you have over-tired
yourself. Are you in great pain?
Oh, I daresay it'll be worse in Purgatory.
MARTIN (pouring out water)
You have been out too long in the hot sun.
Thanks. Sorry, Simon. Don't mind me, Father Theoda-
tus. It's only bad temper. The Prior set you a hard pen-
ance when he appointed you beast of burden to a sick
No, indeed. There is nothing I would more gladly do.
I deserve far more than that for the evil I did you.
Oh, stop blaming yourself. What's done can't be helped.
Blame God, or the devil, or whoever looks after these
things. Where's Hubert? I want him here. Go and fetch
Brother Hubert, for God's sake, somebody. (Exeunt
SIMON and THEODATUS, right.) Why haven't my papers
been brought down?
GERVASE (bringing stool with papers and setting it by
the couch up-stage)
They are all here. I will put them handy for you.
Will you not rest a little first?
No, I will not. Leave me alone, can't you? Gervase, find
me the measurements for those corbels. They've got
them all wrong, as I knew they would. (Enter HUBERT,
right.) Just because I'm not there to stand over them
all the time Oh, Hubert, come and look at this. What
did I tell you? I knew it was not my measurements that
were wrong. Can't you remember anything you're told?
I am sure, sir, I gave Father Hilary the measurements
exactly as you gave them to me. But he would have it as
his own way was the right one, and he told the men
Father Hilary! Why should they pay any attention to
Father Hilary? If I had the use of my limbs I'd give
them something to remind them who's in charge here.
But I have to lie helpless as a log while you make a mess
of it among you. Never mind. Not your fault. Gervase,
give me pen and ink I'll show you how you can put it
right. (GERVASE fetches pen and ink from bench, left)
Lift me up, somebody. (MARTIN lifts him up.} Ugh!
Now, see here . . . I've got an idea about this. . . .
[He begins to draw on the plan, but is overcome by
Dear master, leave it until tomorrow.
It looks as though I shall have to. All right, Hubert.
Don't worry. We'll put it straight in the morning.
(GERVASE and MARTIN take away the drawing materials
and settle him back on his pillows.) Oh, God! Shall I
never be able to do anything again?
[Enter LAY-BROTHER, right, with a bowl of soup and
a trencher of bread.
You work too hard. You have over-tired yourself. You
will feel better when you have eaten. (GERVASE takes the
bowl and hands it to WILLIAM, and the LAY-BROTHER
goes out.) Come away now, Brother Hubert. He must
be persuaded to rest. (He bustles HUBERT away, right,
then turns at the door as ERNULPHUS and PAUL pop
their heads round it.) Here are some visitors for you,
[Enter PAUL, carrying a bunch of roses and something
done up in a cabbage-leaf, and ERNULPHUS, obviously
concealing some offering under his habit. Exeunt
MARTIN and HUBERT,
May we come in? Pax tecum, my son, pax tecum.
WILLIAM (in a dispirited growl)
Et cum spiritu tuo.
And how do you feel this evening?
WILLIAM (with a wry face, but not unkindly)
T t t~t-tl
It's this dreadful hot weather. Very trying. I don't know
when I remember such a trying June. I'm sure we never
had such unwholesome heat when I was a boy. I was
nearly melted away, working in the garden. And the
greenfly gets worse every year. There never was such a
year for greenfly. Everything smothered. Still, I've man-
aged to find a few roses (presenting them), and see! A
dozen or so of the early strawberries. I thought you
might like them for your supper.
WILLIAM (genuinely touched)
That's very good of you, Father Paul. Are they the first?
The very first. Nobody else has had anynot even the
Father Prior. I hope you will find them sweet. Though
I must say, fruit doesn't seem to have the flavour it had
in my young days. Still, such as they are, there they are.
[He puts them on the stool, down-stage.
I shall enjoy them immensely. I don't know anything
more refreshing than early strawberries.
Oho! don't you? I do. (He produces a stout little flask
from under his habit.) Just you try this. A reviving
cordial water from our own distillery. Not too fiery,
and full of healthful properties. Made from herbs, ac-
cording to our special recipe.
[Puts it on the stooL
Thank you; thank you very much. I will drink it to the
healths of both of you.
Oh, but it is your own health we must all wish and pray
for. We do pray for you, of course. Night and morning.
And remember you at Mass, Eh, Father Ernulphus?
Always. All of us. So you mustn't lose heart. Oh, dear,
no. Now we had better run away, or we shall tire you
out. Good night, my son. May God watch over and re-
Our Lady and all the blessed saints have you in their
[PAUL and ERNULPHUS trundle amiably off, right.
Good old soulsl This is what I have come to, Gervase
to be nursed and coddled, and comforted like a child
with strawberries. Ah, well. You can tuck me up for the
night and leave me to my own hobgoblins.
GERVASE (taking the supper things away and helping
him to lie down)
To the holy Angels, rather. There! is that comfortable?
Yes, thank you, my boy.
GERVASE (witR a little assumption of authority)
Do not forget your prayers.
Very well, Father.
Benedicat te omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Filius et
Spiritus Sanctus. Amen.
GERVASE (going out, right)
Sleep in peace. Hubert and I will be at hand if you
should need anything.
WILLIAM pulls out a rosary, mechanically counts the
first decade, then tosses it away impatiently.
O lux beata trinitas,
Et principalis unitas,
Jam sol recedit igneus;
Infunde lumen cordibus.
Michael, thou watchman of the Lordl What of the
Watchman, what of the night?
The morning cometh, and also the night; if ye will
enquire, enquire ye: return, come.
Te mane laudum carmine,
Te deprecamur vesperi,
Te nostra supplex gloria
Per cuncta laudet saecula.
[Enter THEODATUS, right.
Master William, there is one without would speak with
The Lady Ursula.
What is the use of this? I will not see her. It is always
the same story. She asks to be my wife, my nurse, my
servant Heaven knows what; to devote her life, make
reparation and all the rest of it. She shall not do it. I
will not have people sacrificing themselves for me. It is
monstrous. It is impossible. Tell her so.
She says she is here for the last time. She is very un-
happy. I think you ought I beseech you to let her
That is a new tune for you to sing, Father Theodatus.
I have learnt a little charity of late. Let me beg of you.
Oh, very well.
[THEODATUS beckons in URSULA and goes out, right.
William, I have come to say good-bye. I will not trouble
you any more. Since I am nothing to you now, and the
world without you is nothing to me, I can but take
refuge at the Throne of Grace and pray for both of us.
That is folly, my dear. You, in a convent of nuns! Go
and be happy, and forget me.
That is the one thing I cannot do. No other man shall
have me, if not you.
I am not a man, Ursula. I am a cripple with a broken
back a stock, a stone I am nothing. A marriage-bond
with me would be a bond indeed. Let the dead past
bury its dead. Our dream is over.
"Sitting by the fire, seeing pictures in the fire, visions
and dreams*' do you remember?
I have no dreams now only nightmares. Nobody can
bring back my dreams. Some of them even grudge me
my work here all that is left to me.
I have broken what I cannot mend. William, tell me
had I at any time, even for a moment, any part in your
I hardly know. But once, high in a corner of the
clerestory, where none but God will look for it, I carved
an angel with your face.
Ah, my dear! . . . And you will still have me go?
Yes; go. I am sorry. Go.
[URSULA goes without protest
Father TheodatusI (THEODATUS looks in) Pray conduct
the Lady Ursula to the convent gate and ask the Father
Prior if he can come and see me.
I will, my son.
[Exit THEODATUS with URSULA, right.
My days are consumed away like smoke, and my bones
are burnt up as it were a fire-brand.
My heart is smitten down and withered like grass, so
that I forget to eat my bread.
For the voice of my groaning, my bones will scarce
cleave to my flesh.
And that because of Thine indignation and wrath; for
Thou hast taken me up and cast me down.
[Enter PRIOR, right.
You sent for me, my son?
Yes. I scarcely know why, save that I am in hell and can
see no way out.
Is there some sin troubling your conscience?
All the sins there are or most of them, any way. Not
that they ever troubled me till I was punished for them.
But now they rise up round me in the night and stifle
My son, will you not confess them and receive absolu-
Confess? if I were to confess them all, you would be
here till tomorrow. I cannot remember when I last
made a confession.
PRIOR (removing the papers from the stool up-stage and
In general, then, my son, and as well as you can remem-
ber them, tell me your sins.
I do confess to God
The Father and the Son and Holy Ghost,
To Mary Mother of God the ever-virgin,
To the most holy Apostles Peter and Paul,
To blessed Michael and all his angels
And the whole company of Heaven, and thee,
Father, that I have sinned exceedingly,
In thought, in word, in action, by my fault,
By my own fault, my own most grievous fault.
I have lusted as men lust; I have eaten and drunk
With the drunken; I have given way to wrath,
Taking God's name in vain, cursing and smiting;
I have been too much eager after gold
And the brave things of the world, that take the eye
And charm the flesh. Now, smitten in my flesh
My sins have left me, and I see perforce
How worthless they all were. I am sorry for them.
Though yet I think I was not the worse craftsman
Because in me the lusty flesh rejoiced,
Lending its joy to all I did. Some men,
Fettering the body, fetter the soul, too,
So that the iron eats inward; thereof come
Cruelties, deceits, perversities of malice,
Strange twistings of the mind, defeats of spirit,
Whereof I cannot with sincerity
Accuse myself. But if it be a sin
To make the flesh the pander to the mind,
I have sinned deep. Of the means, not of the end,
I heartily repent.
Son, they mistake
Who think God hates those bodies which He made.
Freedom, not licence, must be given the body,
For licence preys upon itself and others,
Devouring freedom's gifts. Have others suffered
Through lust, wrath, greed of yours?
I do confess it,
And ask their pardon and God's pardon for it
In this world as in God's heaven
There is no power to match humility:
It breaks the horns of the unicorns, and makes
The wand of justice flower like Aaron's rod.
Stoop to repent, and God will stoop to pardon.
I do repent.
Indeed I hope thou dost.
For all these injuries, see thou make amends
So far as may be done; the irreparable
God's grace shall turn to good, since only He
Can lead out triumph from the gates o hell,
As He hath done by thee, using thy faults
To further His great ends, by His sole power,
I understand. A year ago
An idle mason let the chisel slip
Spoiling the saint he carved. I chid him for it,
Then took the tool and in that careless stroke
Saw a new vision, and so wrought it out
Into a hippogriff. But yet the mason
Was not the less to blame* So works with us
The cunning craftsman, God.
Thou hast a mind
Apt to receive His meaning. But take heed:
The mind hath its own snares. What sins of the mind
Trouble thee now?
I do not know of any.
I cannot read the heart; but I am old
And know how little one need fear the flesh
In comparison of the mind. Think, I beseech thee,
If any sin lie yet upon thy conscience.
Father, I know of none.
The Tree of Life
Grew by the Tree of Knowledge; and when Adam
Ate of the one, this doom was laid upon him
Never, but by self : knowledge, to taste life.
Pray now for grace, that thou may'st know and live.
Wilt thou not give me present absolution?
Of all thy fleshly faults, humbly confessed,
Truly repented, I do absolve thee now
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of
The Holy Ghost. Amen.
Peace be with thee.
And with thy spirit. Good night.
[Exit PRIOR. WILLIAM tosses restlessly.
T. The ministers of God are sons of thunder, they are
falls of water, trampling of horses, and running of
chariots; and if the voices of these ministers cannot
overcome thy music, thy security, yet the Angels'
Quantus tremor est futurus
Quando judex est venturus
Cuncta stricte discussurus.
[GABRIEL goes up and stands behind WILLIAM.
Tuba mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulchra regionum
Coget ornnes ante thronuin.
[MICHAEL goes up and stands with drawn sword be-
Liber scriptus proferetur
In quo totum continetur
Unde mundus judicetur
[CASSIEL goes up and stands at the foot of WILLIAM'S
bed, with the Book open before him.
Quid sum miser tune dicturus,
Quern patronem rogaturus,
Cum vix Justus sit securus?
[RAPHAEL goes up and stands with his censer at the
head of WILLIAM'S bed.
SleepI while these voices wail through aisle and cloister
Howling on judgment? Cannot Father Ambrose
Keep his monks quiet let a sick man rest?
I am confessed, absolved. Why think of judgment?
My soul is heavy even unto death,
And something not myself moves in the dusk
Fearfully. Lights! lights! lights!
GABRIEL (laying his hand on WILLIAM'S eyes)
Let there be light!
[WILLIAM becomes aware of the presence of the
T. Behold, the angel of the Lord, standing in the way,
and his sword drawn in his hand.
1$. And he was afraid, because of the sword of the angel
of the Lord.
V . My flesh trembleth for fear of Thee, and I am afraid
of Thy judgments.
IJT. God is a righteous judge, strong and patient, and
God is provoked every day.
So it is come; first death and then the judgment.
Thou standest there and holdest up the Book
Wherein my sins show black. But I am shriven.
Christ's blood hath washed me white. What then art
Threats in thy hand, and in thy face a threat
Sterner than steel and colder?
I am Michael,
The sword of God. The edge is turned toward thee:
Not for those sins whereof thou dost repent,
Lust, greed, wrath, avarice, the faults of flesh
Sloughed off with the flesh, but that which feeds the
The sin that is so much a part of thee
Thou know'st it not for sin.
What sin is that?
Angel, what sins remain? I have envied no man,
Sought to rob no man of renown or merits,
Yea, praised all better workmen than myself
From an ungrudging heart. I have not been slothful
Thou canst not say I was. Lust, greed, wrath, avarice,
None ever came between my work and me;
That I put first; never by nights of lust
Too spent to labour in the dawning day;
Never so drunken that I could not set
Level to stone or hold the plumb-line true;
Never so wroth as to confound my judgment
Between the man and the work, or call the one
Ill-done because I wished the other ill;
Never so grasping as to take reward
For what I did not, or despised to do.
If I neglected lip-service to God,
My hands served for me, and I wrought His praise
Not in light words puffed from a slumberous mind
Like wind, but in enduring monuments,
Symbol and fruit of that which works, not sleeps.
Answer me, Angel, what have I ever done
Or left undone, that I may not repent
Nor God forgive?
There where thy treasure is
Thy heart is also* Sin is of the heart.
But all my heart was in my work.
What, in my work? The sin was in my work?
Thou liest. Though thou speak with God's own voice
Thou liest. In my work? That cannot be.
I grant the work not perfect; no man's work
Is perfect; but what hand and brain could do,
Such as God made them, that I did. Doth God
Demand the impossible? Then blame God, not me,
That I am man, not God. He hath broken me,
Hath sought to snatch the work out of my hand-
Wherefore? . . . O now, now I begin to see.
This was well said, He is a jealous God;
The work was not ill done 'twas done too well;
He will not have men creep so near His throne
To steal applause from Him. Is this my fault?
Why, this needs no repentance, and shall have none.
Let Him destroy me, since He has the power
To slay the thing He envies but while I have breath
My work is mine; He shall not take it from me.
No; thou shah lay It down of thine own will
Never. Let Him heap on more torments yet
He can heap none on thee. He hath not borne
Let Him strike helpless hands as well as feet
Whose Feet and Hands were helpless stricken through
Scourge me and smite me and make blind mine eyes
As He was blindfolded and scourged and smitten
Dry up my voice in my throat and make me dumb
As He was dumb and opened not His mouth
Cramp me with pains
As He was cramped with pains,
Racked limb from limb upon the stubborn Cross
Parch me with fever
He that cried, "I thirst"
Wring out my blood and sweat
Whose sweat, like blood,
Watered the garden in Gethsemane
For all that He can do I will not yield,
Nor leave to other men that which is mine,
To botch to alter turn to something else,
Thou wilt not? Yet God bore this too,
The last, the bitterest, worst humiliation,
Bowing His neck under the galling yoke
Frustrate, defeated, half His life unlived,
Could God, being God, do this?
Christ, being man, did this; but still, through faith
Knew what He did. As gold and diamond,
Weighed in the chemist's balance, are but earth
Like tin or iron, albeit within them still
The purchase of the world lie implicit:
So, when God came to test of mortal time
In nature of a man whom time supplants,
He made no reservation o Himself
Nor of the godlike stamp that franked His gold,
But in good time let time supplant Him too.
The earth was rent, the sun's face turned to blood,
But He, unshaken, with exultant voice
Cried, "It is finished!" and gave up the ghost.
"Finished* 1 when men had thought it scarce begun.
Then His disciples with blind faces mourned,
Weeping: "We trusted that He should redeem
Israel; but now we know not. What said He
Behind the shut doors in Jerusalem,
At Emmaus, and in the bitter dawn
By Galilee? "I go; but feed My sheep;
For Me the Sabbath at the long week's close
For you the task, for you the tongues of fire/*
Thus shalt thou know the Master Architect,
Who plans so well, He may depart and leave
The work to others. Art thou more than God?
Not God Himself was indispensable,
For lo! God died-and still His work goes on.
)F. Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in
three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God,
come down from the cross.
IJf. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father,
and He shall presently give Me more than twelve
legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures
be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.
Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.
Faithful Cross, above all other
One and only noble Tree,
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit thy peer may be;
Sweetest wood and sweetest iron,
Sweetest weight is hung on thee.
O, I have sinned. The eldest sin of all,
Pride, that struck down the morning star from Heaven
Hath struck down me from where I sat and shone
Smiling on my new world. All other sins
God will forgive but that. I am damned, damned,
Justly. Yet, O most just and merciful God,
Hear me but once, Thou that didst make the world
And wilt not let one thing that Thou hast made,
No, not one sparrow, perish without Thy Will
(Since what we make, we love) for that love's sake
Smite only me and spare my handiwork.
Jesu, the carpenter's Son, the Master-builder,
Architect, poet, maker by those hands
That Thine own nails have wounded by the wood
Whence Thou didst carve Thy Cross let not the
Be lost through me. Let me lie deep in hell,
Death gnaw upon me, purge my bones with fire,
But let my work, all that was good in me,
All that was God, stand up and live and grow.
The work is sound, Lord God, no rottenness there-
Only in me. Wipe out my name from men
But not my work; to other men the glory
And to Thy Name alone. But if to the damned
Be any mercy at all, O, send Thy spirit
To blow apart the sundering flames, that I,
After a thousand years of hell, may catch
One glimpse, one only, of the Church of Christ,
The perfect work, finished, though not by me.
y . Save me from the lion's mouth; Thou hast heard me
also from among the horns of the unicorns.
ty. For why? Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell,
neither shalt Thou suffer Thine holy one to see
Sheathe thy sword, Michael; the fight is won.
Close the book, Cassiel; the score is paid.
Give glory, Raphael; the race is run.
Lead homeward, Gabriel, the sheep that strayed.
Eloi, Eloi, Eloi,
Glory to God in the highest; holy is He!
How hardly shall the rich man enter in
To the Kingdom of Heaven! By what sharp, thorny
By what strait gate at last! But when he is come,
The angelic trumpets split their golden throats
Triumphant, to the stars singing together
And all the sons of God shouting for joy.
Be comforted, thou that wast rich in gifts;
For thou art broken on the self-same rack
That broke the richest Prince of all the world,
The Master-man. Thou shalt not surely die,
Save as He died; nor suffer, save with Him;
Nor lie in hell, for He hath conquered hell
And flung the gates wide open. They that bear
The cross with Him, with Him shall wear a crown
Such as the angels know not. Then be still,
And know that He is God, and God alone.
y . Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell,
rose again the third day from the dead,
1^. He ascended into Heaven, He sitteth on the right
hand of the Father, God Almighty; from whence He
shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
Eloi, Eloi, Eloi,
Glory to God in the highest; holy is He!
[While this is sung, the ANGELS go up and stand side
by side across the stage behind the couch.
I shall not die but live, and declare the works of the
Lord. Who is there? I was dreaming. Gervase! Hubert!
[GERVASE and HUBERT run in, left and right.
God hath changed my mind.
I must submit. I must go back to France.
I do but hinder the work, lingering here,
Kicking against the pricks.
Do not say so!
What should we do without you?
I am not
The only architect in the world there are others
Will do the work as well, better perhaps.
Stay not to chide me listen, there is one,
William the Englishman, a little man,
But with a mounting spirit and great vision;
Send now for him. I think we quarrelled once,
Not seeing eye to eye but that is nothing;
He will respect my work as I do his,
And build a harmony of his and mine
To a nobler close than mine. Ill not dictate
Conditions to the Chapter; but, should they choose
William the Englishman to follow me,
Hell do such work for them as honours God
And them and all good craftsmen. As for me,
My place is here no more. I am in God's hand.
Take me and bear me hence.
Dear master, whither?
To the Lady Ursula's lodging. If unto her
I can make any amends, then I will make it.
To all of you, I owe a debt of love
Which I will pay with love. Only to God,
That royal creditor, no debt remains.
He from the treasure of His great heart hath paid
The whole sum due, and cancelled out the bond.
[GERVASE and HUBERT carry WILLIAM out, Tight.
O quanta qualia sunt ilia sabbata,
Quae semper celebrat superna curia,
Quae fessis requies, quae merces fortibus.
Gum erit omnia Deus in omnibus.
Vere Jerusalem illic est civitas,
Cujus pax jugis est summa jucunditas,
Ubi non praevenit rem desiderium,
Nee desiderio minus est praemium.
Illic ex sabbato succedit sabbatum,
Perpes laetitia sabbatizantium,
Nee ineffabiles cessabunt jubili,
Quos decantabimus et nos et angeli.
[MICHAEL comes down to the foot of the steps and
addresses the congregation; the other three ANGELS
standing above him.
Children of men, lift up your hearts. Laud and magnify
God, the everlasting Wisdom, the holy, undivided and
Praise Him that He hath made man in His own image,
a maker and craftsman like Himself, a little mirror of
His triune majesty,
For every work o creation is threefold, an earthly trin-
ity to match the heavenly.
First: there is the Creative Idea; passionless, timeless,
beholding the whole work complete at once, the end in
the beginning; and this is the image of the Father.
Second: there is the Creative Energy, begotten of that
Idea, working in time from the beginning to the end,
with sweat and passion, being incarnate in the bonds of
matter; and this is the image of the Word.
Third: there is the Creative Power, the meaning of the
work and its response in the lively soul; and this is the
image of the indwelling Spirit.
And these three are one, each equally in itself the whole
work, whereof none can exist without other; and this is
the image of the Trinity.
Look then upon this Cathedral Church of Christ:
imagined by men's minds, built by the labour of men's
hands, working with power upon the souls of men;
symbol of the everlasting Trinity, the visible temple of
As you would honour Christ, so honour His Church;
nor suffer this temple of His Body to know decay.